Posted in AmQuerying Series, literary agent, writing

#AmQuerying: With Kosoko Jackson

Determined
Heyo! It’s been a while but I am back with another post for the #Amquerying series, with the always sassy and super-amazing, Kosoko Jackson! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic.
You can follow Kosoko on Twitter here and read below to find out how he got his agent, how he actually misses querying (WHAT?!) and why anything is possible in publishing!
1. How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?
I was a huge fan of query-tracker and I used the paid service obsessively. It was a great site to have everything in one place and made the information easy to find. QTs search feature isn’t the best (for example, if you are looking for an agent that does “Young adult” and “thriller” it gives you agents that do “YA” only, “thriller” only AND “both” instead of just the both), so I also used MSWL; the hashtag & the website. I then would spend several minutes searching for interviews to help personalize the query letters.
2. Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried? 
Ha. Nope. A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER is the 3rd book I queried. Effectively, this is the 3rd iteration of this novel, so you could say it’s my 5th novel written.
 
3. What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent? 
Sure! If you include all 3 version of A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER, and even the R&Rs from patient agents, I sent 257 queries. From those I got I’d say in the ‘upper 30s’ for full requests. I ended with 3 offers.
My agent timeline was long. I got a “Favorite” from Louise Fury in #DvPit in 2016. She sat on the full, and then I nudged her saying I go into Pitch Wars in August. She then got the revised version in November, and I nudged her again when I got an offer in March. It was about 11 months from when I sent her the first query, to when she offered. This goes to show anything can happen!
 
 4. How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool? 
I liked querying (and I kinda miss it?). It was fun to learn about new agents, seeing and learning about agents and such. It felt a little like a scavenger hunt. I think there’s a querying learning curve; with any novel you query. The first full is an exceptional feeling; the first full rejection stings, and the same with queries. I strongly believe in the “you need to grow thick skin” mentality when it comes to querying. Consequently, with 250 rejections, I learned to breeze through them and not really feel any sort of personal hate or pain. This is a business, and the quicker you learn that the better. Sometimes, you write something that’s good–it’s actually great–but not great for the market. It happens.
I will say my emotions went through the whole spectrum, as I feel all querying authors emotions do. That’s normal, and that’s part of the fun. I’d suggest embracing it. You learn a lot about yourself during querying–and how you deal with stress. Publishing is a slow game. Querying, is the fastest part.
 
5. How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else? 
Personally? I bury myself in my work. When I got a rejection? I sent out 10 more queries. Not 1. not 4. 10. I just push through. I’m stubborn. It’s adorable, to be honest. (bold by me, Claribel, because this is both true and hilarious) I would NOT suggest this to anyone else. Reason why? When I had to nudge agents I had to nudge 78 of them. That was a lot of manage.
And like any author, I worked on other things while waiting.
6. Anything unexpected about the querying process for you? 
I think what was unexpected was the kindness of strangers. When I first wrote this novel, it was a speculative ‘what if’ version and far more political. I had a line in my query letter that suggested parallels to a specific war. An agent who asked for a R & R she suggested I base the novel in that war, instead of making a reference to it. That simple change got me where I was today. It made my novel unique, insightful and tapped into something no one really talked about in YA. This agent didn’t have to tell me that. She didn’t have to write a whole page note from my 10 pages. But she did, and I’m here–with an agent–because of it.
I should note that though this was from the kindness of the agent’s heart, I know it came from my social media presence. Be kind to everyone, folks. Engage. Agents are people too. They like what you like. They love what you love and they will chat with you like a normal person if you don’t view them like some Gods on high. It can help and make an agent put in that little bit of effort.
 
7. If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be? 
Throw caution to the wind! Many people will disagree with me but when I say query widely, I mean like VERY widely. Here’s how I did my novel. To its benefit or detriment, my novel is Historical, a Thriller, LGBT, And a little more lit-ficy- than most YA. So I searched for agents using those parameters. If they OPENLY said they were looking for any of those 4 factors in YA, they were ‘tier one’. If they said,  “I like WXY but not Z” Tier 2. Tier 3 were people who never openly said no to any of the genre’s mentioned, but didn’t say yes. This not only made a priority list in my mind, but also helped to see how agents worked.
8. Did other writers comes into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages? 
 
I participated in every critique or pitch event I could to help hone my first pages. I also have a very loyal friend who pushes me, challenges me, and really helps me to be the best I can. She was amazing and instrumental in this novel getting to where it was now, mainly because of her ingenuity of turning tropes on their heads and her knowledge of the market and trends. ADVICE: don’t be afraid to make friends with people you never thought you would. Sometimes, those people have the best advice.
9. When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?
Louise wasn’t the agent who got the ball rolling. She was actually someone I nudged and was my last call (12 hours before my deadline). I was on the way to a conference and pulled over to have the call with her. Off the bat, Louise flying back from South Africa to call me was really a good sign. Additionally, she had amazing insight about the novel, how to fix it, what to make better, me and my career, the type of writer I wanted to be and the type of person I was. Yes, an agent is a business partner but, especially being a young author, someone who I can grow with, challenge me, help me expand, and take what I think are my strengths and capitalize on them while bolstering my weakness, was important. Louise brought me all of that and more. We talked for 2 hours and I haven’t looked back.
10. Describe the querying process in 3 gifs. 




11. Tell us a little about your upcoming book
 
A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER follows seventeen-year-old James Mills, the adopted son of 2 USAID parents, on his family’s final humanitarian mission, which takes them to Kosovo. For James, this is the first trip without his older sister, Anna, and he expects it to be a fairly dull one. But when the Kosovo-Serbian war breaks out, and he becomes separated from his parents, James must navigate a war-torn country and unearthed familial secrets, if he hopes to get him and his Brazilian boyfriend back home safely.

12. Anything else you’d like to share??

Really enjoy the process. It all seems like a lot of wall hitting and annoyance. It’ll feel like you’ll never get there, but no ones road is the same. I know people who got accepted on their first novel, some on their 12th. Some after 1 year of writing and subbing, some after 5 years. No story is the same…but make sure you don’t lose what makes you who you are in the quest to follow your dreams. Because the right agent will love you for you, and when you find them; it’ll be amazing.
kosoko
Kosoko is a Washington D.C. native who has been writing novels since 9th grade. With a goal of bringing marginalized voices to the forefront of all genres of literature, Kosoko finds beauty in addressing complex questions & themes for young adults, aided by complex prose. Kosoko is a digital media associate for Rock the Vote and finishing his BS in Public Health with dual minors in History & Communications. When not writing or working, he is trying to finish his 100 movies in 2017 goal, walking the streets of DC, or trying to convert believers to the Cult of Wonder Woman.  He is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.
Posted in AmQuerying Series, querying, writing

#AmQuerying: With Katie Golding

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Hello nerds! Today I have my fourth guest of the #Amquerying series, the amazing Texas-loving Katie Golding! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I started this series while I was smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Katie on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, her love of video games, her feelings on the possible vampire-revival in publishing and more!

 

How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

Is there a way to prepare for querying other than clutching your beta tight and hoping for the best? I’m not sure, but other than that, I used Agentquery.com and did a lot of blog scouring, a lot of revising, and a lot of twitter query critique contests.

How did you research the agents you queried? Any helpful websites you can share?

Really, I started by Googling “romance literary agents”. Yep, I’m pretty basic even on my best days. Writersdigest.com has database that I used extensively to find out who was open to submissions, and once I had a list, I looked closely at their personal websites to figure out their submission guidelines. Also, I have a great group of CPs who would recommend agents that were popping up on their radar, but may not have pinged on mine for whatever reason.

I hear you like to suffer and queried multiple books at once, can you tell me about that?

Well, first, DON’T DO THIS! It is a ridiculous thing and causes more problems than good! *laughs* But yes, I started to query one book, while finishing writing/revising another unrelated novel. By Christmas, my patience to keep the second book hidden in the drawer fully gave out, and I entered it in a twitter contest just to see what kind of response it would get and if anyone was interested. They were, and then everything got really, really complicated.

Apart from just keep track of who had what and how much of it, when I received an offer of rep on Book B, I had to contact agents that had fulls of Book A, and tell them I was getting offers on a novel they didn’t even know I had written! There were questions of what happens to Book A if I sign on Book B, which one I wanted to focus on more but OFFER OF REP and DREAM AGENT and just…chaos. All the chaos. In the end, it worked out for me because I wouldn’t have met my agent if I hadn’t taken the chance with putting the second novel in the twitterverse, but for anyone who wants to stay sane, I highly recommend querying/contest’ing only one book at a time.

You used to write Vampire Diaries fanfic & there have been rumors that people in publishing are trying to make vampires happen again. What are your feelings on this?  

I wrote a ton of The Vampire Diaries fanfic, like somewhere in the vicinity of nearly a million words, so you’d think I’d be sick to death of vampires by now. But really, if vamps are coming back in publishing, I don’t have a problem with it. The story can contain vampires, or space cowboys, or a king in ancient Persia and as long as there is a reason for a character to be that, and that it’s being used as a tool to explore the full range of themes instead of just flashing fang for the sake of it, I’m down. After all, what we’re really reading/writing about is love and the human condition, the tantalizing question of “What if I made all the wrong choices, and it brought me all the right things?” Vampires are just a very comfortable way for us to anchor those stories in a way that readers can relate to. Bring ‘em on.

What was the querying process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent? How many bottles of wine did you drink, approximately?

Well, I could tell you, but my therapist has advised against me recollecting this dark and difficult time. No, that’s a lie. It really wasn’t too bad, though the process was—I would say—standardly long? It was long enough that I was ready to be done by the time it was over.

Stats: I queried my first novel starting in April of 2014, and it went out 41 times before it was shelved. My second novel went out June 2015, and it had 25 different hooks thrown in the water before I ended up retracting it. My third book I technically never queried. I twitter pitched it during #PitchMas (while still querying my second book like a geeeenyus), sent my queries and synopsis and pages to the agents who had made requests, and I officially signed that book with one of those agents the following April.

So it took me three books (plus the two I self-pubbed and pubbed through Kindle Scout in between), two years (almost to the day), multiple contests (#PitchSlam, #PitMad, #PitchMas, #WritePit, Write Club, plus more I’m probably forgetting), and god-only-knows how much wine and cheese and how many really big cheeseburgers I went through. Oh, and chocolate. Can’t forget the chocolate.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, cool? Dog-sitting-in-a-burning-room-meme-stressed?

Man, I was so cool, I was basically Matthew McConaughey and just walked around repeating, “Alright, alright, alright . . . ” You know, like we Texans do. Um, truthfully, I held it together as well as I expect anyone does. You have your good days, you have your days where you want to give up and question everything, and you have your days where you don’t even think about it because you’re too busy writing. Those are the ones you should strive for, because as fun as getting requests are, you’ll always be waiting on an email, no matter what stage of the game you’re in.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I have a great support team that keeps me working and laughing constantly. It’s a system I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m also a fan of relieving stress via video games, anything from racing cars to puzzles to first person shooters works wonders for me when I’m not working on the next project. And there should always be a next project.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I think everything was unexpected, really. I think, now, I can say that I initially didn’t expect for it to take so long, yet I didn’t expect it to go by so fast either. I didn’t expect the community of other writers that I found in the process, or the bonds that we made. I certainly didn’t expect it to end with a tweet and not a query, and I didn’t expect that once I was out of the trenches, I would still be writing more query letters for myself, simply to help plot future books! It never ends!

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

Apart from finding a fountain of never-ending patience and living the rest of your life in it, just make sure you can be found. And what I mean is that more than just having your website pop up in an SEO, that you’re putting yourself out there every way that’s open to you. Instead of just querying and relying on someone sorting through the slush pile, participate in the writing community through contests and by promoting others, reading and leaving reviews, and even by simply talking to those who are talking about writing on social media. You never know when or where you could get “discovered.”

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Only in the sense that without them, my heart, soul, and career would be the equivalent to applesauce right now. My beta/CP Michelle Hazen is my rock, and between spamming me lists of agents to query and mailing me cheer-up cheese post rejections, she talked to me about her own journey. We traded queries that worked, many that didn’t, and we bumbled our way through the process together. It also helped that while I’m quite introverted, she is not, and along the way, she made a lot of great contacts that I quickly stuck my face into, trying to keep her all to myself while also stealing her pre-readers for my own books. #Sorrynotsorry We share a lot of CPs and pre-readers for that reason. And she finds really good pre-readers.

Your call was literally a Christmas miracle; can you tell us about it? Also, were you wearing reindeer PJS?

Oh man, I so should’ve been wearing reindeer PJs! That would’ve been so great! Alas, I think I was wearing probably three pairs of pants and four sweaters because Texans hate winter. It’s a fact. But basically, a request from #PitchMas very quickly became a request to call me and talk. On Christmas Eve. My response was somewhere along the lines of: Yes, agent, yes I will talk to you on Christmas Eve and have all my dreams come true. Sign me up. So . . . Christmas Eve came. She called. We talked. I had galaxies of stars in my eyes when she said my writing was “addicting,” and my feet were still somewhere in the stratosphere even after hearing the words “revise” and “resubmit.” But once we hung up, I finished decorating my tree, and at approximately 12:01 am on December 26th, I went to work. Tore the book apart about a billion times over, and when I resubmitted it, I don’t think I breathed again until I heard back. The answer was yes, and we signed some really cool papers with a rather lovely couple of names on them. *wipes away happy tears*

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs

i_tried

princessbridegif

funnyphonereach.gif

Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

I’m starting a new project right now and I’m so excited for it! It’s an adult romance that gets behind the wheel of a rally car—with her in the driver’s seat, and him in the passenger. It’s going to be a little darker, and a lot sexier than what I usually write, and I can’t wait to see where the characters are going to take me. Outside of that, I recently started an interview series on my blog called Writers on the Rise. I’m speaking to writers who are currently in the process of querying, asking who they are, what they write, and how we can support them in their journey. The response has been even more positive than I could have hoped.

Anything else you’d like to share??

ONE BOOK AT A TIME, PEOPLE! LOL No really, just know that every one of you is undeniably awesome, and no one—no rejection—can change that. Oh, and eat tacos often. They help with just . . . everything.

 

About Katie

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Katie Golding is sports fan with a writing problem. The former English major at Texas State University resides in Austin, Texas, ever trying to teach her son to throw a perfect football spiral while counting down the days to the next MotoGP race. With her husband taking on dinner duties in support of her writing time, she self-published two contemporary romance novels and can frequently be found blogging about tacos and typos. She is currently at work on both her golf swing and her next romance novel. RWA; represented by Shira Hoffman of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Follow her on Twitter @KatieGolding_TX

FB: www.facebook.com/katiegoldingbooks

Website and Blog: www.KatieGoldingBooks.com

Posted in AmQuerying Series, query, querying, Querying Help, Uncategorized

The Query Letter That Got Me an Agent

Dear (Agent name spelled correctly),

      Reeking of cigarettes and sneaking into her window after last night’s Smiths concert, Emerald Kipp watches as the sun dips backwards into the sky. The sixteen-year-old witch can’t decide if she’s still hung-over or if she really did reverse time. Coming from a lineage of Caribbean and South American witches, Emerald has always known she was magical, but after rewinding time like a VHS tape on her last day of high school, she discovers she’s also a Timeteller – a class of time-bending witches so powerful, they were hunted to near-extinction long ago.

     When Emerald’s only relative Aunt Nora vanishes, Emerald must venture into the dangerous Magick World, tucked within the NYC alleyways and subway tunnels to save her. Her only clue into her aunt’s disappearance comes from a message from the past—find The Timekeeper, solve the riddle.

     Despite the watercolor sky and talking neon signs, the NYC Magick world is a treacherous one, and skinstitchers , a class of witches who kill and absorb the power of other witches, soon make Emerald their target. With power hungry skinstitchers  hunting her, Emerald must rely on an underground network of Magicks to help her on her journey. Solving the riddle requires not only trusting her new friends, but overcoming her crippling anxiety enough to trust herself.

   As the mystery of the riddle begins to unravel, Emerald learns that more than Aunt Nora’s life is at stake if she can’t beat it. Armed with a book of magic, her still-broken Walkman, and her trusty lock pick set, Emerald sets out to solve the riddle before time runs out–and she, along with everyone she knows, is erased from history. This might be a little harder than Saturday detention.

RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER is a 99,000-word YA Urban Fantasy set in 1980’s New York City. It combines THE CRAFT with SHADOWSHAPER and  is a standalone novel with strong series potential. I am querying you because (brief explanation). Below please find my first twenty pages and a brief synopsis.

     I work as a marketing director and social media manager at The Combined Book Exhibit, which displays books at library and trade shows such as The Frankfurt Book Fair, worldwide. I am also a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Journalism program and a former reporter in Westchester County, NY.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Posted in AmQuerying Series, literary agent, Publishing, querying, writer, writing

#AMQUERYING: With Michelle Hazen

rockclimb

Hello nerds! Today I have my third guest of the #Amquerying series, the very ass-kicky Michelle Hazen! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. Michelle will be an adult/new adult mentor in this year’s PITCH WARS so look out for her if you’re hoping to enter! You can follow Michelle on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, the deal with her science-tortoises and more!

How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

For the first book I queried, my only resource was an outdated Writer’s Market that I got from the library. For the second book I queried, I researched more widely on the internet at large. For the third book I queried, I joined Twitter, and suddenly the world exploded into a fountain of publishing information and contests, and I learned REALLY fast how many things I was doing wrong.

Writers? I hate social media, too. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the internet-less wilderness and most people’s great-grandparents got a smartphone before I did. But if you want to be an author, repeat after me…Just. Join. Twitter.

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Nope. I wrote 13 and queried 3 before I landed an agent.

I know you have a background in fan fic writing, can you tell me about that? Did it affect your querying process at all or help you stand out to agents?

Fanfiction helped me learn to write, and it gave me a chance to connect with readers and know how heart-swellingly awesome that could be, which helped me through the heartbreak of the querying process. However, I’m an odd fanfic writer in that Amazon Kindle Worlds gave me an opportunity to legally publish my fanfic and share my royalties with the copyright holder. So I had some publishing credits, sales numbers, and marketing experience in my back pocket before I started shopping my original fiction around.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

I queried my first book in 2005, to somewhat less than trumpeting fanfare because I was making a lot of noob mistakes I didn’t realize were mistakes. I queried Book 2 for several months in 2014, and I meant to write its sequel but instead I guiltily wrote this other book that was jockeying for my attention. I hadn’t exhausted my options for Book 2 yet, but I was SO excited about Book 3, so I started querying it and entering it in contests. Right away, it got more requests than I was used to, and I had my offer in hand within 6 weeks of sending my first query.

 

How did you balance querying with your other activities? I know you climb rocks and work with large tortoises for science.

Small tortoises, actually. For science. LOL! I have a load of hobbies, and I’ve never gotten super good at any of them because I have so many…and then writing came along and ate my life. It’s even harder to keep up with all my other interests now because I devote an incredible amount of time to writing. But I find that one of the kindest things I can do for myself during either the querying process or the being on submission to publishers process is to GET AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.

I just got back from a week long, girls-only rock climbing trip, and seriously, it is so wonderful to not be thinking about if you have writing news or if you don’t have news, and why you don’t have news, and if you don’t have news because maybe you’re a terrible fraud and a hack and should maybe drown yourself in Cheez Whiz and White Out. Plus, if you go to the wilderness, not only do you get away from the refresh button (irony), but you remember that you have a whole life and a lot of talents that aren’t at all connected to writing. So maybe when you get that next rejection letter, you’ll remember there are parts of you the publishing industry is not even ALLOWED to pass judgment on. That can feel really good—almost like being a stable, well-balanced person. Almost.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Oh, super cool. I was fine, thanks, totally expected rejection, was super zen, practically spouting green tea from my ears and thoughtfully pruning bonsai trees with machetes to pass the time. Ha freaking ha.

No, honestly through most of the querying process, I was teeth bared, JUST TRY AND STOP ME I WILL WRITE BOOKS UNTIL YOU ARE BURIED IN BOOKS AND THE WORLD RUNS OUT OF PAPER FOR YOU TO WRITE REJECTION LETTERS ON. My life story is a long list of pulling off crazy, unlikely shit because I was too stupid to give up. Writing is sort of perfect for me.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

Yes. See Number 5: Backing Away From the Internet.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I didn’t expect it to end so soon! LOL. Honestly, there are so many blow-your-mind talented authors in the querying trenches, some of whom I’ve seen get agents lately and some of whom are still looking, and I sort of expected to be the one who had to query 20 books over a period of 35 years while selling baskets on eBay woven of my graying hair and lined with the tear-moistened paper of rejection letters.

But I suppose in another way, the querying process is never over. You have to land a book deal for each book you write, even after you get an agent, so the process continues: you just happen to have the support of a seasoned industry professional who deeply and truly believes in you. Which, I’m not going to lie, is awesome.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

RESEARCH! I mean, as an ex-counselor, maybe I should be giving you some emotional management tips, but really, you wouldn’t need nearly as many of those if you would RESEARCH. If you’ve never had anyone read and give you feedback on your work, stop querying right now. If you haven’t done dozens of hours of research on querying and what agents are looking for and what the most common errors in querying are…stop querying right now and start researching. I’ve seen too many really promising books burn all their agent chances because they were making some small, fixable errors. Don’t do this.

The piece of advice I usually give querying authors is this website:

https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

When I was writing fanfiction, I found a really talented author and basically bullied her into being my critique partner. She’s helped me with every line I’ve written and every day I have dragged myself through ever since. I hit the jackpot with her, and then spent YEARS testing out other CPs and beta readers. I now have a great group of beta readers and two flat-out amazing CPs who are a huge support to me in my writing and personal life. Those girls are funny, sweet, crazy talented, and they know when to kick my ass and when to send me Texas coffee or tree air fresheners.

I think you really need writing friends, because the world at large doesn’t understand the agonies and ecstasies of the publishing industry, and you need people who GET what you’re going through. Plus, their good news is just as exciting to me as my good news, so really it’s like you multiply the amount of good news you get, and that’s badass.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

I was in New Orleans, eating bbq while a construction crew jackhammered the sidewalk next to us. When I saw the email from my future agent wanting to schedule a call, I froze. I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t think because of the freaking jackhammer, or maybe because my entire life had changed.

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.

 

WRiter headdesk

 

Writer sobbing under desk

 

Seinfeld happy dance

Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

Right now, my agent is shopping around a NA rocker romance series, I’ve just written a Thing that no one can pin a genre on that shows an interracial couple’s journey through trauma and love mirrored in the city of New Orleans. And I’m about to start a romantic suspense series about female Spec Ops soldiers. Can’t wait for that one!

 

About Michelle

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Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem.

Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back. She wrote most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.

Michelle was awarded first place in the 2015 NTRWA Great Expectations Contest, New Adult genre. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary. Michelle is the Amazon bestselling author of Kindle Worlds titles: the Desperate Love Trilogy, the In Time We Trust Trilogy, Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style, and Sanguine Veritas. Find her on Facebook or Goodreads as Michelle Hazen, or follow her on Twitter @michellehazen.

Official site: http://michellehazenbooks.com/

 

 

Posted in AmQuerying Series, Publishing, query, querying

#AMQUERYING: With Michael Mammay

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Hello RadDom readers! Today I have my second guest of the #Amquerying series, Pitch Wars 2015 mentee Michael Mammay! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Michael on Twitter here and read below to find out how he got his agent, his advice for writers and more!


 

How did you prepare for querying?

I am a total data nerd, so I had a process. I got a list of all of the agents who represent adult SF from querytracker, then I put them in a spreadsheet, then I looked each agent up in Publisher’s Marketplace to see what books they’d sold, especially SF books that they sold, and to what publishers. From there I ranked them into three groups – top, second-round, and for consideration. I also ranked agents inside the same agency in order, so I could query the best fit first. After that I looked at things like MSWL, and adjusted my list based off of agents who appeared to want what I wrote (for example, my book is military sci-fi, so any agent specifically looking for that moved up on my list.)

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

No, it was my second. My first book is a fantasy that you will never see. In fact, I’m not 100% sure it even exists. Scholars have long wondered, but there is no evidence to prove it.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? Can you share the timeline?

My process wasn’t too typical. My book got into Pitchwars, where Dan Koboldt was my mentor (He wrote THE ROGUE RETRIEVAL ) But I didn’t get my agent via the contest, so I queried immediately after that.

Stats:
I queried 32 agents.
I got 5 requests
4 of those requests got upgraded to fulls
I got 2 offers.

I started querying on the 5th of November and signed with my agent on the 2nd of March. So right about 4 months. In the end I got offers from two agents who were in my initial top 5 – so quality, not quantity for me. I signed with Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary, and I couldn’t be happier.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Definitely something other than cool. It kind of varied from day to day, where some days I was anxious about it, some days I was a little better. So what I tried to do was on the days where I felt good, send a bunch of queries. That way they were out there, and I could just wait. And then high and low. I got a lot of rejections early, and started to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the one. My requests came mostly later in the process, and as they came I started to have a bit more hope.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I wrote. And I did a lot of critiques for other people. Those are the two things that I think make you a better writer – writing and reading what others write. And I was starting to move on to the next thing, in case this one hadn’t worked out, so I just wanted to get better. Plus those are just two things I love to do.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

How fast it went at the end. I went more than 3 months where things were very slow. Then all hell broke loose. The first agent to offer requested a partial, then requested a full the same day, then emailed to set up a call like 2 days later. So I went from pretty much nothing to GAAAAHHH in about 72 hours. I then set a deadline for other agents to respond, and the second agent asked for a full and got back to me the next day to set up a call. It was a crazy week.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have two. Can I do two? I’m doing two.

  1. Take your time. I’ve known literally hundreds of authors who have queried. Many, many of them will tell you ‘I queried too early’ (including me with my first book.) I’ve never once heard anyone say ‘I queried too late.’ You want to query agents with the best possible book you can write. Get critiques, then revise, then get more critiques. Find critique partners who hurt your feelings. Too many people, when they send stuff for critique, want someone to tell them how good it is. NO! You want someone to tell you what’s wrong, so you can make it better. You get one chance with an agent…make it the best chance. (For more on critiques, read this awesome post from MK England )
  2. Find your people. All that stuff up above about CPs and Beta Readers? You can’t just do that overnight. You have to get out there and meet people, swap chapters, figure out who you work well with. Not every reader is going to work out for you, so you’ve got to keep at it. And when you find good ones, do everything in the world to keep them. It takes time, but eventually you’ll have folks. When I re-wrote my first chapter after I got into Pitchwars, I contacted four people and was like…hey…can you read this for me…and oh, by the way…I kind of need it today. They all did it. Of course they did. They’re my people.

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Oh, hell yes. So many. First off, my brother Steve reads everything I write before anyone else gets to see it. He’s not a writer, but I know he’ll tell me the truth if it sucks. This isn’t a critique – it’s just a little mental thing for me – and he always has one or two great ideas that I incorporate. After that I had about 8 or 9 readers on this project in three or four different rounds. I have three CPs who I’ve been with since I started getting serious about writing: Red Levine, Becka Enzor, and Colleen Halverson (Her book is awesome ). And along with them I had other great readers like David Kristoph, Jess Bloczynski, and Tahani Nelson, and of course Dan Koboldt made more notes during Pitchwars. Overall I did 4 revisions, plus a 5th revision on the third act. And then while I was querying I had the group with all the Pitchwars mentees, which has been invaluable for support. Probably the coolest thing about my query experience was that Becka and I got offers at the same time, so I got to share the entire offer/call thing with a long time CP who was going through it at exactly the same time.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

Lisa emailed me to set up the call, which I set for after work. She discussed the revisions she saw for my book, which were so good that I kept interrupting her because I was excited about incorporating them. And she told me about the agency and all the awesome things about it (seriously…go look at the client list…it’s incredible.) What most impressed me is how much of a team they seem to be. Other agents read my book as well as Lisa, and one offered additional brilliant notes, one of which solved a problem I’d been trying to fix since my rough draft. It just felt like they were all on board and behind my project, and I knew that’s where I needed to be.

Describe the querying process in 3 GIFS.

Sending my first queries

Sending queries

Waiting

waiting.gif

Getting the email

Minions


 

 

Authors, want to be featured in the #Amquerying series?

Email me at Claribelortegaauthor@gmail.com!

Posted in AmQuerying Series, interview, writing

#AmQuerying: With Brooks Benjamin

Benjamin-My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsHi guys! Today is the start of a brand new series on Rad/Dom – the #Amquerying series! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. My first guest is the very awesome, funny and talented Brooks Benjamin whose new book MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS, comes out April 12th! You can pre-order his book here and read below to find out how he got his agent, how he dealt with querying and more!


RAD/DOM:  How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

Brooks Benjamin: I was a complete noob when it came to querying. I actually had to Google what a query letter was and was already typing up some to print out when I found a few other writers on Twitter who pointed me toward Query Tracker. I used it a little, but more than anything I just searched agents’ websites and tried to find some that seemed like a good fit. Plus that gave me a way to personalize the query letter a bit more.

RAD/DOM: Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Brooks Benjamin:  It was the second, actually. My first book is a MG fantasy that I’m still very excited to get in front of some editors soon!

RAD/DOM: What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

 Brooks Benjamin: My journey with TIGHTS wasn’t very typical, I don’t think. After I got into Pitch Wars (Marieke Nijkamp was my mentor and you should all go buy her book, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS immediately because it’s phenomenal), I held off on querying because I wanted to see how it did in the contest. It got a few nibbles, but nothing major. So Marieke told me to go ahead and begin querying–this was in January–and by February I had my first offer. A couple more trickled in and I ended up signing with the Genius German Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.

 

RAD/DOM: How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

 

Brooks Benjamin: So anxious. But it was that excited kind of anxious where the waiting sort of presses in on you from all sides like a hug. 

 

RAD/DOM: How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

 

Brooks Benjamin: I wrote. A lot.

 

RAD/DOM: Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

 

Brooks Benjamin: I was surprised how many agents actually responded. I figured most wouldn’t, but nearly every single one of them sent something back.

 

RAD/DOM: If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

 

Brooks Benjamin: Don’t stress. I know that’s hard not to do when you’re waiting, but I remember when I began querying, I was convinced that an agent was going to scrutinize my query so much that if it wasn’t 100% perfect, it’d end up in the trash. But agents want your query to be the next one they fall in love with. They want your story to pull them in. They want you to be the next author they decide to sign. So don’t stress. Just write the best story you can write, send out those queries, and wait until it lands in front of the right agent.

 

RAD/DOM: Did other writers comes into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

 

Brooks Benjamin: Oh goodness yes. I have some incredible critique partners and critique groups who are such brilliant writers. I literally couldn’t have done this without them.

 

RAD/DOM: When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

 

Brooks Benjamin: I was at home in the middle of writing when I got the email from Uwe. I’ll never forget it. He said, “I just finished the read. I LOVE the book!  I laughed and I cried and I will call you tomorrow to talk and convince you to sign with me!” And when we did talk, I knew right away that he was the agent I had to sign with. His enthusiasm for TIGHTS was too hard to ignore!

 

RAD/DOM: Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.

 

Brooks Benjamin:
Ready to send
. wiggle butt

 

Waiting impatiently for someone to love your idea
waiting.gif

 

Trying to stay busy.
stay busy

 

Bonus gif four: Finding an error in your query as soon as you hit send.
freak out

 

RAD/DOM: Tell us a little about your upcoming book

 

Brooks Benjamin: MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is all about a twelve-year-old boy named Dillon. He’s the only one on his dance crew with no real technique. Kassie (the crew leader) only has one rule she dances by: dance studios are for sell-outs. But when a chance to compete at the biggest dance academy in the state falls in Dillon’s lap, he has to decide what’s more important: sticking to his crew’s rules or finally getting a chance to freestyle his way into solo greatness.

RAD/DOM: Anything else you’d like to share??

Brooks Benjamin: I’d love to give a shout out to my critique groups (the MGBetareaders and Middle Grade Minded) as well as my fellow debut authors (The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2K16)! Y’all are the best!

 

About Brooks:

BB author picture

In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House (April 12, 2016).

Benjamin-My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights